An Edinburgh scientist is the first recipient in Scotland of a prestigious British Heart Foundation grant.
Dr Tijana Miti has been awarded the Career Re-entry Basic Science Research Fellowship, a four-year grant of £285,300, and is working at the BHF’s Centre of Research Excellence at Edinburgh University.
She is now exploring how to unlock genes in order to understand how to prevent loss of limb when people suffer reduced blood flow.
Damage to vessels due to insufficient blood circulation to the extremities is a major cause of peripheral arterial disease for which there are few effective treatments.
PAD is a type of vascular disease that most commonly affects the arteries that supply the legs and can cause severe pain when walking. The condition is caused by the narrowing of blood vessels in the legs, due to a gradual build-up of fatty material called atheroma within arterial walls.
Tijana recently had a two and a half year career break, during which time she worked as a freelance science writer and educational consultant. She and husband Andreas Caporali – another BHF-funded scientist in Edinburgh – also welcomed son Alexander during that time.
She said: “I knew I wanted to take a break and try a different career, and I was aware that grants for career re-entry were available. I discovered I was missing lab work and I wanted to go back to research and discovery. I feel very fortunate to have received this prestigious award.”
With up to ten years of academic research experience in both basic and pre-clinical projects, the BHF grant has allowed her to make a much-desired return to the lab.
“The BHF Research Fellowship has not only provided me with flexibility to work part-time while looking after my family, but offered the opportunities to update my skills, gain advice and mentorship as well as regain credibility as a researcher when integrating back into academia,” said Tijana.
Starting her academic career in 2003 studying biochemistry, Tijana went on to gain specialist knowledge in various areas of molecular medicine. Tijana was awarded her PhD degree in cardiovascular biology from Edinburgh University in 2010.
BHF’s CoRE lab, where she is based, invests in excellence and future talent, and aims to nurture the most promising young scientists into the next generation of world-class heart researchers.
Director of BHF Scotland James Cant said, “Tijana is a fantastic ambassador for BHF-funded scientists in Scotland and I’m really pleased she’s been able to return to her first love, laboratory science.”